Transform Your Dorm on Social

Back to school is a mundane but necessary time of year: families push shopping carts through aisles of big box stores, filling it with ordinary items: pillows, shampoo, lamps, chairs, plastic containers. Or they spend time sitting at a computer filling a virtual cart full of supplies. Every year there is usually a flurry of brightly-colored commercials featuring smiling children and teens. It’s clockwork. Routine.  

But there may be a more that marketers can do to make the back to school season a little more engaging. It’s an exciting time – fresh from summer, looking forward to the new academic year, but the content can feel a little stale. We’ve seen the commercials of smiling elementaryage schoolchildren many times. What makes this year any different? 

Transform your dorm

This season, grocery chain Kroger is partnering with social media platform TikTok, leveraging the hashtag #TransformUrDorm to feature college-age students sharing their dorms. TikTok is currently one of the most popular social media channels these days, and a favorite by college-aged users. It’s a way to use influencer marketing to connect with an audience. College-bound students can look at the TikToks and design their dorm rooms in a similar way, or however they want. The peer pressure is far from subtle: if you don’t head to Kroger and load up on stuff to decorate your dorm with, you’re going to be left out. Keeping up with your peers is a priority in college, and Kroger intends to help you get there. (Kroger also has a helpful “dorm” section to help you get started; it’s a step in the direction of augmented reality, but it’s not quite that.

Commercials, direct mail, and emails work just fine, but don’t necessarily have the same feeling of “in the moment” as social media. The immediacy of social media, particularly with video content, creates the sensation you are just a few feet away from the user. These TikToks, that feature neatly organized rooms, colorful bedspreads, and creatively decorated walls makes you feel like you just walked into your new room, ready to sit down and conquer the semester – as soon as you catch up on summer’s gossip. Your ex’s new fling said what?

Splurging is permissible 

Back to school season is a bit different than other times of the year: consumers already have their wallets open, no convincing needed. It’s also one of the new times a year where splurging is permissible with no regret. Pricey comforter? Sure. Christmas lights? Of course! Since people are already in a spending mood, the trick is to convince them to spend with youThe TikToks showing the decked-out dorms are also an invitation to enjoy what can be a stressful chore – you’re spending money, you might as well have fun while doing it. Instead of focusing on hauling the stuff out of the car and up the stairs, you can focus on the end result – having a room that is ready for the stressors of the academic year. 

Marketers: do you know anyone handy with generation Z social media platforms like Tiktok, SnapChat, or Instagram stories? Is it you? Is it your cousin who won’t put the phone down at Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments. 



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